Ben Russell, NBC 5 News
The City of Dallas is looking for the public's help cleaning up troubled neighborhoods. The city is taking suggestions on vacant homes that need to be demolished.
The city of Dallas is taking suggestions this week for blighted, abandoned and substandard properties that could be candidates for demolition through "Operation Crackdown," a program run by the Texas Army National Guard.
Since 2010, Guardsmen have teamed up with Dallas to demolish dozens of problem properties, identified as drug houses or other crime centers. But this is the first year where the city has no properties that it has acquired to offer up. Instead, they are asking for potential candidates.
"We are hoping that the community will tell us where these properties are and will give us the owner's information," said Amanda Chase, an assistant city attorney with the Northeast Division Community Prosecutor's office, who is spearheading the program.
Once a property has been identified, a Code Compliance officer will visit the house and, if it appears to be a viable candidate for the program, contact the owner of the property, which can often be easier said than done.
"Some of these properties, it may have been some time since the person who owns it has lived there," Chase told NBC DFW, which she explained can make finding the proper owner difficult.
"But the neighbors do [know how to contact the owner]. They know, because they've lived there for decades," Chase said.
Sheila Dupree has several homes she would like to nominate for demolition.
There are no fewer than eight abandoned houses within two blocks of her South Dallas home, a few streets away from Fair Park.
"We have a lot of prostitution. They walk all night because it's a drug area," Dupree said Tuesday.
The vacant houses provide a safe haven, she said, for criminals up to no good.
"It's a concern to us, because I have been sitting on my porch and some of those youngsters come out of there and they were shooting and the bullets. You could hear them go through the trees over there. And I'm ducking, and asking 'Do you know what you're doing?' And then they just walk on like it's nothing," Dupree said.
Neighbor Diane Kizart agreed.
"Some people break in them and do drugs. Some of them break in and prostitute out of them," Kizart said. "It is a problem."
Kizart told NBC DFW she will contact Code Compliance about the two homes across the street, because of what goes on inside of them.
"They're going all day, all night. And if they didn't have these vacant homes, they wouldn't have anyplace to go," Kizart said.
To nominate a vacant, substandard property, send an email to email@example.com by Friday, June 11. You are asked to include the address, any ownership information you know (owner name, contact information, family member names, phone numbers, current address, email, community contacts, etc.) and include "OPERATION CRACKDOWN" in the subject line.